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Romney a no-show at Latino conference: Insult or lost opportunity?

July 11, 2012|By Sandra Hernandez
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado to distribute food to those affected by wild fires.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Care and Share Food… (Evan Vucci/ Associated…)

Mitt Romney's failure to attend the National Council of La Raza’s annual meeting held in Las Vegas this week is drawing fire from some critics who suggest the Republican nominee’s decision to send a video in his place is an insult to Latinos.

Really? OK, Romney’s video did sound more like a generic campaign infomercial than an attempt to woo Latino voters, according to some in the audience. In the mini film, his wife, Ann Romney, describes her husband’s love of family, country and his role in helping run the 2002 Utah Olympics. That's it, nada about immigration, unemployment or other issues that might resonate with Latinos.

I’m guessing the insult for some wasn’t what Romney said in the video, but what he failed to say. For instance, Romney’s failure to explain to Latinos why he supported for SB 1070,  Arizona’s harsh immigration law that sought to drive undocumented immigrants out of the state by making life unbearably tough. The U.S. Supreme Court tossed out all but one provision of that law last month, finding it clashed with the federal government's lone authority to regulate immigration. Romney has since adopted a gentler tone on that issue but said little that might offer Latinos a better understanding of why he backed such a noxious measure.   

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In the end, Romney’s failure to address NCLR -- the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights group -- is really a lost opportunity for the candidate, not an insult. The GOP knows it has a problem with Latinos. The conference would have been a good  opportunity for their candidate to address the elephant in the room -- the idea that the GOP doesn’t care about Latinos and their presidential nominee believes undocumented immigrants should self deport. Instead, Romney stayed away. But he’s not the only no-show. President Obama didn't attend the NCLR fiesta either. He did, however, send Vice President Joe Biden in his place. But as one Latino blogger noted, getting Biden instead of Obama is kind of like “wanting Justin Bieber and getting Clay Aiken.”


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